Friday, November 24, 2006

Parable Of The Cautious Man

There was a very cautious man,
who never laughed or cried.
He never risked, he never lost,
he never won nor tried.
And when he one day passed away,
his insurance was denied,
For since he never really lived,
they claimed he never died.

In other words, missed opportunities are the curse of potential. Just after the Great Depression, Americans, perhaps understandably at the time, took many steps intended to minimize risk. The government guaranteed much of our savings. Citizens bought billions of dollars worth of insurance. We sought lifetime employment and our unions fought for guaranteed annual cost-of-living increases to protect us from inflation. This security-blanket mentality has continued in recent decades as executives awarded themselves giant golden parachutes in case a merger or takeover took their plum jobs.

These measures had many benefits, but the drawbacks have also been heavy, even if less obvious. In our eagerness to avoid risk, we forgot its positive aspects. Many of us continue to overlook the fact that progress comes only when chances are taken. And the security we sought and continue to seek often produces boredom, mediocrity, apathy and reduced opportunity.

We still hear much about security, especially from federal and state politicians. But total security is a myth except, perhaps, for those six feet underground in the cemetery. We may indeed ask our government for guaranteed benefits. But we must be aware that when a structure starts with a floor, walls and ceilings will follow. And herein lies a paradoxical proverb:

You must risk in order to gain security, but you must never seek security.

When security becomes a major goal in life – when fulfillment and joy are reduced to merely holding on, sustaining the status quo – the risk remains heavy. It is then a risk of losing the prospects of real advancement, of not being able to ride the wave of change today and tomorrow. Had the founders of Yahoo, and America Online been concerned with immediate profits and return on investment, we would not be enjoying those Internet services today, each of which has a greater market capitalization than IBM or General Motors.

-- Denis Waitley

Monday, November 13, 2006

Facing Your Fears

What is it that keeps people from living their lives and pursuing their dreams? What is the element that causes so much anxiety and feelings of failure in people all over the world? By the title of this column you have probably figured out that it is fear. Fear can be an ugly word that holds connotations of the worst that life has to offer. But what is it that we really fear? Pain. We all want to avoid pain in our lives. We want to feel good and skip the bad altogether, so we avoid pain by throwing different situations into the fear pile. Whether we group it as fear of physical injury, humiliation, loss of money, or loss of time, the truth is that we are just trying to avoid pain. We are afraid to do certain things because the results of those actions will be very painful to us. So how can we get past this fear? Be honest with yourself. Recognize your weak points, and identify your fears. Have the courage to face those fears, and you will be unstoppable. Remember that most fears are just negative visualization, and that changing that vision to a positive one may be all you need to take steps towards living the life you have always dreamed of living!